Ramadan in summer means your children, tweens and teens have a lot of time on their hands. What a wonderful time to strengthen family times, enhance friendship and grow in Iman and Mercy.
When dealing without school adolescents and teenagers for the month, the key is to have a balance in their lives. Ramadan is not a month to sleep away, nor is it a month to party away. Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed! You can make Ramadan a Quranic event for your children, tweens and teens! After all the Holy Qur’an was first revealed during the summer – thus the ‘burning’ of the month is more than just in our stomachs.
Use the table wisely!
During Ramadan, families gather at that table for suhoor and iftarr. This gathering allows for parents to teach and pass values on to their children in a receptive environment. During the summer months, there is more time and space for working parents to have collective meals with their children, thus there is more time to TALK! Talk to your teens and most importantly let your Teen talk to you!
1) At the beginning of the month, let the teens or older children tell the story of when revelation was received. Let them reflect on the story and discuss it. Resist the urge to cut in with your own story or ‘correct’ them. If your children don’t know this, then give them access to a book since the first day of Ramadan and let them read it then discuss.
2) Challenge your teens to read a part of the Holy Quran each day (after all it is broken down into 30 to do so). Let your younger children learn a new Surah for the week. Let every step be a Victory. If your young teen only gets through a part of a juz’ don’t reprimand, but congratulate that your child is reading Qur’an. Encourage them to try to read the Quran for themselves and not just listen to congregational recitation at the Masjid or during taraweh prayers.
3) Discuss the Tafsir (interpretation) of the –part read each day at the table.
4) Discuss the stories of the prophets in the Qur’an and then let the children discuss how this applies to their own life in modern times.
5) Discuss ‘issues’ that teens may have at this time. This may include Islamic standards of modesty in dress or behavior, limits, responsibility and rights of adolescents. Use the time to actually foster a healthy understanding of their “Muslim” self instead of their ‘cultural identity’.
6) Have a night of Quranic recitation led by the children themselves. If your night activities are short, do the Quranic reading and recitation between Asr and Magrib.
7) Listen to your children’s recitations; children learn from parents what to do, not just what we say to them. Our interest in the Holy Qu’ran as a parent will help increase their interest.
Engage in Activities
Not all teen are open to ‘talking’ and not all households have fostered an environment where talking at the table is conducive. However, there are still ways to engage your teen in activities that make the day not only productive, but fun.
1) At the beginning of the month – Talk about what you want to do. Make a calendar and list of activities for your family. This may include invitations given or received to iftars, Masjid programs, learning sessions, masjid potlucks, community activities etc.
2) Take your teen to sight the moon at the beginning and end of the month.
3) Talk to other parents of teens about their plans. This is important because Ramadan allows for the increased social interaction between Muslims. Invite them to be a part of yours or ask if your teen can be a part of theirs.
4) Take your teens to taraweh prayers at the masjid – especially during the middle of the week. If your teen drives, then let him/her pick up other teens and take them. If your work schedule makes mid-week masjid attendance too physically taxing – then car pool with another parent.
5) Encourage your teens to keep a Ramadan journal. They may even want to save it for future years to see how they feel each year, how they do or even share with their own children.
6) Don’t let your teen sleep the day away. Instead, if not in school and not working – let them volunteer at a homeless shelter, Goodwill, Food Bank, hospital, nursing home or library. If you can’t find anything formal– Let them help in cleaning the masjid or the home of a senior citizen or sick Muslim. If all else fails, let them go to a playground or park and pick up trash or recyclable items as a community service.
7) If your teen likes arts and crafts, let them help younger brothers and sisters or children from other families make Eid cards, iftar invitation, decorations for home or masjid. This can be an afternoon activity one or two days a week throughout the month.
8) Let your teen finish projects around house as a form of sadaqah. They may also start a project like making a scrap book or cleaning/decorating their room. The key is to have something that they can do during the day.
9) Pair your teen with a senior citizen, ill/handicapped or new Muslim. Then let your teen be responsible for visiting or having iftar, dinner, reading Qur’an to them once a week. Your teen can prepare and take the food to their house.
10) Let your teenagers not only shop for the foods you will have for iftar and suhoor, but prepare them as well.
11) Let the teens plan and have their own iftar with other teens. Follow this up with a Youth halaqah or taleem. The teens can all read/recite a juz’ (part of Al-Quran) together before breaking fast, then have iftar, their meal and taraweh prayers in congregation.
12) Encourage your teens to make Itikaaf. In Shari’ah this means to engage in retreat in the Masjid and stay there with the intention of seeking nearness to Allah. This is for both the boys and girls as the wives and companions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) observed Itikaaf both in his lifetime and after. It is a time for spiritual reflection and teens to can engage in worship and study to increase their Iman and understanding.
13) Get input from your teens about what they would like to do to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. Some places have community events that are geared towards the young ones, but the teens should have a voice of what interests them. After doing so – let them begin the process of organizing their own celebratory activities.
Motivate, encourage and pray for your teens, without doubt a Muslim teen withTaqwa (piety) is surely a mercy and blessing from Allah, The Most High.